The FBI investigation in college basketball: What is going on?

The FBI continues to build a case against a lot of major names in college basketball, who are connected with getting payments from agents and apparel companies. The latest report from Yahoo Sports gave details to the information was gathered from the FBI’s raid of ASM, an agency that had many NBA clients. Over 20 schools were listed in the report.

Assistant coaches have already been arrested for their alleged participation in this, but now Tom Izzo and “Villanova Coaches” were found on this report. It has since been removed from the report. If coaches are connected to the agency in any way, there will likely be heavy sanctions on those programs and the coaches will likely be fired.

Not only were former players named, but current players like Miles Bridges, Kevin Knox, Wendell Carter and Collin Sexton, were all mentioned in the report to varying degrees of receiving money. Some were given loans and payments, while others just met with the agency for dinner. With the former players, wins will likely be vacated, as well as other additional sanctions. The current players may be ruled ineligible if and when the NCAA gets all the details.

The likely situation for all current players is that they will play out the season and be off to the NBA before anything happens. While the NCAA would love to have all the information, this is an FBI investigation that could take years to sort out. The FBI has no obligation to give any documents to the NCAA or help in the NCAA’s process of finding information.

Only Xavier has responded to this report so far. Edmond Sumner was a sophomore point guard on the team last year and was listed as having received $7,000 from the agency.

“I have no relationship with Andy Miller or any of his associates. He plays no role in the recruitment of potential student-athletes on Xavier’s behalf. Beyond that, our staff has never created a path for him to foster a relationship with any of our student-athletes while enrolled at Xavier. Any suggestion that I or anyone on my staff utilized Andy Miller to provide even the slightest of financial benefits to a Xavier student-athlete is grossly misinformed. We are prepared to cooperate with any and all investigations at any level.”

The NCAA has since responded with a statement from President Mark Emmert.

“These allegations, if true, point to systematic failures that must be fixed and fixed now if we want college sports in America. Simply put, people who engage in this kind of behavior have no place in college sports. They are an affront to all those who play by the rules. Following the Southern District of New York’s indictments last year, the NCAA Board of Governors and I formed the independent Commission on College Basketball, chaired by Condoleezza Rice, to provide recommendations on how to clean up the sport. With these latest allegations, it’s clear this work is more important now than ever. The Board and I are completely committed to making transformational changes to the game and ensuring all involved in college basketball do so with integrity. We also will continue to cooperate with the efforts of federal prosecutors to identify and punish the unscrupulous parties seeking to exploit the system through criminal acts.”

What’s next?

Don’t worry about the rest of this season through March Madness. That will go on as scheduled, as there is no way the NCAA gets all of the information needed to punish teams yet. It may be vacated later, but just enjoy watching good basketball. If they don’t get the information from the FBI, then they will likely make overall changes to their current procedures and rules to make these things easier to catch, as well as start to investigate on their own.

It’s a long process for these FBI investigations. The public having this information already is going to create some impatience. The FBI is going to turn over every leaf and hopefully get some confessions. They will likely want to find out how many coaches were involved with the agency actively. Izzo and Villanova coaches are likely going to be fired at some point if this report rings true, since they had direct communication with this agency.

Fans of college basketball who want to know everything now will have to wait. Keep an eye on Yahoo Sports, as they have been the only site to be granted access to these documents. Any further information will likely come from them.

 

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2018 NCAA Tournament bracketology February 19

It’s under three weeks until Selection Sunday and college basketball continues to surprise. With teams having resumes that are almost complete, fans can start to get pumped for the madness in March. Here is the latest 2018 NCAA Tournament bracketology. Click to zoom.

First four out: USC, Washington, Louisville, Boise State

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2018 NCAA Tournament bracketology February 12

The NCAA selection committee released their top 16 seeds this Saturday to give a look into how they would seed the teams right now. This can officially put everyone in the mindset for March Madness. Here is the latest NCAA Tournament bracketology. Click to zoom.

 

First four out: SMU, Nebraska, St. Bonaventure, Utah

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2018 NCAA Tournament bracketology 2/5/18

Only a month and a half until March Madness begins. Teams are about half way through their conference schedules and are jockeying for position. Here is the latest NCAA Tournament bracketology. Click to zoom.

First four out: UCLA, SMU, Nebraska, Marquette

 

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2018 NCAA Tournament bracketology 1/29/18

Only a month and a half until March Madness begins. Teams are about half way through their conference schedules and are jockeying for position. The NCAA Tournament is just over two months away. Here is the latest NCAA Tournament bracketology. Click to zoom.

 

First four out: Syracuse, Missouri, Western Kentucky, Maryland

Next four out: Notre Dame, South Carolina, Georgia, Washington

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Booth’s Injury To Test No. 1 Villanova’s Depth

In a year defined by wild upsets and stunning inconsistencies from blue blood programs, No. 1 Villanova has provided college basketball fans a refreshing breath of consistency and reliability. They sit in first place in the Big East with a 6-1 record and a 19-1 overall record, with their lone loss coming at the hands of Butler on the road.

Villanova has flashed dominance in a team-oriented offense predicated on ball movement and offensive rebounding while hounding opponents with a pressure heavy defense. Villanova has swept away any concerns coming into the season about depth and lack of star power with the departures of former Big East Player of the Year Josh Hart and Kris Jenkins.

 

Booth’s Injury

Villanova will be put to the test in the final weeks of the season as junior guard and team captain Phil Booth broke his right hand against Providence and will be sidelined indefinitely. The magnitude of this loss cannot be overstated.

 

Booth, a starter for Wright’s squad, averaged a career high of 28.2 minutes per game and 11.6 points per game while shooting at 49 percent. Booth’s true value to this Villanova team goes beyond the statistics and the box scores though. A member of the 2016 National Championship team, he has grown into a vocal leader both in the locker room and on the court. Booth’s hounding on-ball defense and sharp three point shooting, averaging 43 percent on the season, will be sorely missed.

Coming into the season, the main knock on the current No. 1 team was their lack of depth. Wright has been conscious of this weakness by relying primarily on an eight man rotation with only six players averaging over twenty minutes per game. Opposing teams have been unable to exploit this flaw as Villanova, even though Wright prefers to implement an aggressive full court press thorughout the game.

Villanova’s players have been able to play through foul trouble due to their discipline on both sides of the court and sound decision making. However, Wright is now faced with a new challenge: overcoming a significant injury to a starting player on a team short bench and championship aspirations.

 

Starting Production

Wright’s concern will not lie with his starting line-up. Sophomore guard Donte DiVincenzo was arguably the nation’s most skilled and reliable sixth man and will seamlessly transition to a starting role.

 

Eric Paschall has elevated his offensive production during Big East Conference play (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

Junior guard, Jalen Brunson, will look to elevate his game to another level after the loss of Booth. Already in the conversation for the Wooden Award, Brunson will now face even more pressure to lead this Wildcat squad. Regardless of how talented Booth is, Brunson is the heart and soul of this team. Brunson is the engine of the offense, averaging 18.8 points per game shooting 56.2 percent while dishing out 5.2 assists per game. His toughness and efficient style of play personifies Villanova and this team will go as far as he can carry them.

 

The key member of the starting five that will need to raise his grade of play is junior forward Eric Paschall. Paschall’s intensity and production has skyrocketed as of late as shown by his performance in Villanova’s 89-69 victory over Providence. Paschall went 6-9 from the field pouring in 17 points while accumulating five assists, four steals and three blocks.

Paschall is the jack-of-all trades player that Wright values so much. His selfless playing style and willingness to accept any role offers Wright the opportunity to instill numerous different game plans. If Villanova hopes to continue its consistency, Paschall needs to maintain his production on both ends of the court.

 

Bench Concerns

Villanova’s bench is where Wright’s worries will come into play. In order to maximize bench production, Wright must strategically utilize freshman froward Dhamir Cosby-Roundtree and freshman guard Collin Gillespie.

 

Wright ought to slowly integrate Gillespie into the rotation rather than throwing him in and asking him to run the offense. Wright faced a similar situation with DiVincenzo last season and the increased playing time paid off dividends as DiVincenzo developed into a consistent dual threat for Wright.

Unfortunately for Wright, Villanova is entering the second half of conference play and he does not have much time. Gillespie is going to have to grow and learn from his mistakes quickly if Villanova hopes to adapt to the loss of Booth.

Another aspect of Villanova’s game that Wright should focus on improving is fouling. At the moment, the Wildcats rank 34th in the nation in personal fouling, averaging 15.9 per game. While this mark is a testament to Villanova’s discipline as a team, Wright needs to understand the risk of continuing to play his trademarked pressure defense. Teams are going to focus on attempting to force the Wildcats to fall into foul trouble early, ensuring that Wright has to rely on his bench early and often.

Verdict

All in all, No. 1 Villanova has the tools to overcome Booth’s broken right hand. However, to maintain its championship aspirations, Wright will have to adjust his play style slightly in some games and go into his bench more than often than usual. His starters will need to push themselves and discover the balance of aggression and security on defense. With this in mind, expect Villanova to continue to outwork their opponents and capture a number one seed in the NCAA Tournament come March.

Featured image by Bill Streicher/USA Today Sports

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2018 NCAA Tournament bracketology 1/22/18

Conference play is now in session, which means a lot is known about college basketball teams already. There is still more to be known throughout conference play, as a lot of teams have already been upset in the first few weeks. The NCAA Tournament is just over two months away. Here is the latest NCAA Tournament bracketology. Click to zoom.

First four out: Syracuse, Maryland, Georgia, Washington

Next four out: Western Kentucky, Baylor, UCLA, St. Bonaventure

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2018 NCAA Tournament bracketology 1/8/18

Conference play is now in session, which means a lot is known about college basketball teams already. There is still more to be known throughout conference play, as a lot of teams have already been upset in the first few weeks. The NCAA Tournament is just over two months away. Here is the latest NCAA Tournament bracketology. Click to zoom.

 

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College basketball preseason top 25: 15-11

It is the end of October so that means college basketball is right around the corner. What teams should be looked at as the best of the best? This is the third installment in the top 25 rundown. For teams 20-16 click here.

15. Cincinnati Bearcats

College basketball preseason top 25

Gary Clark (Photo by downthedrive.com)

The Bearcats got into the NCAA Tournament yet again, but they can’t stay in the dance too long once they get there. They have only made it to the Sweet 16 twice in this millennium, 2001 and 2012, despite having a good team. With the talent they have on the roster this season, they should be able to get back to the Sweet 16 for the second time under Mick Cronin.

In the frontcourt, Cincinnati will have two really good players eating up most of the minutes. Gary Clark was the AAC Defensive Player of the Year last season and also poses an offensive threat in the post. He averaged 10.8 points and 7.9 rebounds per game in 2016-2017 and is in store for a big senior season. Kyle Washington is another key post player that had a solid first year at Cincinnati after transferring in from N.C. State. Washington averaged 12.9 points and 6.8 rebounds per game and also gave another three point shooting threat, shooting 35.9% from deep. Nysier Brooks, Quadri Moore and Tre Scott will be asked to fill in any minutes that are left over.

There is a new face in the back court. Cane Broom sat out last season after transferring from Sacred Heart. At Sacred Heart he averaged 23.1 points per game in the 2015-2016 season. He will add a scoring punch from the guard position that the Bearcats haven’t had in a long time. Flanking him will be Jacob Evans and Jarron Cumberland, who can both light it up as well. Evans averaged 13.5 points per game, while Cumberland set his mark at 8.3. Both can stretch the floor well and will open up space for the post players and Broom.  Justin Jenifer will likely keep his role as a backup, but has valuable experience. Freshman will have to help provide more depth to cope with injuries and foul trouble.

The key to the Bearcats team is defense and they will be strong in that department again. They have enough talent to get to a Sweet 16 so the only question is: Do they have the coaching?

14. Miami Hurricanes

College basketball preseason top 25

Bruce Brown (Photo by draftexpress.com)

Jim Larranaga has rebuilt the program again after losing a lot of the team after their great 2012-2013 season. Two seasons ago they made the Sweet 16, while last year they got knocked out in the first round. This season they have some NBA-level talent on their roster that can make it back to the Sweet 16.

Dewan Huell had a decent freshman season from his forward position, but is expected to take a huge jump up from his average of 5.8 points and 3.1 rebounds per game. Ebuka Izundu will play at the center position after playing 13 minutes per game last season. He is still raw, but with time could become a solid player. On the wing, Anthony Lawrence Jr. will be asked to do more. He scored 6.8 points per game last season. Rodney Miller, Chris Stowell and Deng Gak will compete for minutes and provide depth.

The guard position is loaded for Miami. Bruce Brown is back after averaging 11.9 points per game. He is good enough to play in the NBA. Ja’Quon Newton also returns to run the point. Newton can get his own shot and create for others, something that will be easier for him to do this season with so much talent around him. Chris Lykes and Lonnie Walker are two good freshman that should help make the production keep coming for the Hurricanes. Walker could get drafted in the 2018 NBA Draft as well and is really athletic.

There is enough talent to do damage in March, but can Larranaga get the job done?

13. Xavier Musketeers

College basketball preseason top 25

Chris Mack (Photo by wcpo.com)

Xavier made a surprise run in March to make the Elite Eight, but ended up losing to Gonzaga. They were a bubble team that mad the most of their opportunity, much like they do most years. With a lot of the key players back again, the Musketeers will be expected to do a lot.

Sean O’Mara is back for his senior season on the inside. He didn’t perform well all the time, but stepped up in the NCAA Tournament and can score and rebound from the post. Tyrique Jones is another interior player that stepped up late in the season. He can finish on the inside and play solid defense. Graduate transfer Karem Kanter can step out and hit mid range jumpers and rebound. Kaiser Gates is a stretch four who got better as the season went on and can provide a spark off the bench or start for the Musketeers and get buckets.

The big news for the Musketeers this offseason was the decision for Trevon Bluiett to return to school. He averaged 18.1 points per game last year and is moving up the all time ranks of Xavier scorers. He will get a chance to play in the NBA after the season concludes. J.P. Macura is also back for his senior season and adds a good scorer and defender. His energy can lift the level of the teams’ play up. Point guard Edmond Sumner is gone, but Quentin Goodin filled in nicely when Sumner was injured last season. Paul Scruggs and Naji Marshall are dynamic recruits who will be playmakers on the second unit. Scruggs is the most talented recruit that Xavier has ever had.

With so many key players returning for Xavier, including one of college basketball’s best in Bluiett, Xavier’s expectation should be another Sweet 16 appearance at the very least.

12. Florida Gators

College football preseason top 25

KeVaughn Allen (Photo by draftexpress.com)

The Gators made an elite eight last season, as Mike White has the program heading in the right direction. They have a few key players returning and a lot of good recruits to fill out the rest of the roster. If their stars can step up, they will be in contention in the SEC and can win some games in March.

John Egbunu is back to hold down the fort at the center position. He tore his ACL last season, so he will not be able to play until midseason, but he provides an athletic big who can defend and rebound. He will need to score more when he returns, but Florida will welcome the defense and rebounding. Kevarrius Hayes helped fill in when Egbunu went down last season. He averaged 6.2 points and 4.4 rebounds per game and will need to step it up again until Egbunu returns. Keith Stone and Gorjok Gak both got playing time last year and will need to progress. Chase Johnson, DeAundree Ballard and Isaiah Stokes are all freshman that will fight for minutes.

KeVaughn Allen is the leading returning scorer for Florida. Allen averaged 14 points per game last year with a good mixture of shooting and driving in his game. Chris Chiozza will take over starting point guard duties now that Casey Hill has graduated. Chiozza is quick and thrives in Mike White’s offensive system. Egor Koulachev and Jalen Hudson are transfers that can help score in bunches. Koulachev can hit a lot of shots from deep and help stretch the floor.

If Florida’s players can see an increase in production and weather the storm without Egbunu, they will be a very tough team to beat.

11. Villanova Wildcats

College basketball preseason top 25

Jalen Brunson (Photo by draftexpress.com)

Villanova had an early exit from March Madness last season when they lost in the second round. They do have some key losses, but have five players returning who averaged over 20 minutes per game. The Wildcats are the class of the Big East and should expect another big year.

Mikal Bridges is a little undersized, but does a lot of things to help Villanova in the frontcourt. He is a great wing who can get to the basket and shoot the three. He averaged 9.8 points per game, but has the capability to score more this season. Eric Paschall also returns to help out on the inside after a solid season. Omari Spellman was redshirted last season after having problems with the NCAA, but he was a highly touted recruit, who will be the Wildcats’ best post player. Dhamir Cosby-Roundtree is a four star recruit that will see minutes early in his career to relieve Spellman and others. Jermaine Samuels is an intriguing freshman wing player that will have to work his way into the mix.

Jalen Brunson, one of the best players in college basketball, is back to play point guard for Villanova. He averaged 14.7 points and 2.1 assists per game. He will need to do a better job of feeding the post and setting up teammates this season, but that shouldn’t be too much of a problem for the star. Phil Booth didn’t play much last season due to knee tendinitis, but should be good to go this season. He is a good shooter that will likely be a starter this season. Donte DiVincenzo is a good defender that can get to the basket.

Villanova is a title contender if they can put it all together and stay healthy, but Brunson needs to get others involved to make it happen.

 

For teams 10-6, click here.

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2017 Dream Team: The Biggest Awards in College Basketball

Now that the 2016-17 college season has officially ended, it’s time to hand out the awards. ESPN had their annual College Basketball Hoophall Awards Night this past Friday, and here is who came out on top. All of these awards make up an unofficial dream team, if you will.

John R. Wooden Award

This award goes to college basketball’s most outstanding player, which happened to be Frank Mason III of Kansas. It isn’t by happenstance that he received this prestigious award.

College Basketball's Biggest Awards

Frank Mason III of Kansas wins the John R. Wooden Award (Photo Courtesy of AndoverLeader.com)

He wasn’t too elated about this achievement, which is understandable given the circumstances. He isn’t the player to be prideful about his individual success, but rather team success. Given that his team didn’t make it to the championship game, he said, “I know right now it probably sounds crazy, but it doesn’t mean much to me right now.”

In other words, his team comes before him, which is shown in his response to the award. Some people might be maddened by his “ungratefulness,” but in actuality, his perspective is purely that of a good leader and teammate.

The award is still well deserved considering his statistics for the season. Mason finished his senior year averaging 20.9 points, 4.2 rebounds and 5.2 assists per game. He is versatile and shoots well from the outside. His clip is 47.1 percent from the arc and 49 percent from the floor. He led the Jayhawks to many key victories in the Big 12.

Scouts are concerned about his 5-foot-11 height. However, he is one of the deadliest shooters in the college game. It will be interesting to see where he ends up in the draft.

Julius Erving Award

This next award goes to the top small forward in the game, which was Josh Hart of Villanova. Hart was also named Big East Player of the Year for his outstanding play.

Senior Josh Hart of Villanova (Photo Courtesy of SI.com)

The senior averaged 18.7 points, 6.4 rebounds and 2.9 assists in 33.2 minutes per game for the Wildcats. He shot 51 percent from the field and 40.4 percent from 3-point land. He is no doubt an efficient scorer and shows defensive toughness.

His years as a Wildcat have groomed him to be a presence in the NBA. He has worked his way up each year. He was named to the Big East All-Freshman team in 2014. Hart was named Big East Sixth Man of the Year as a sophomore. He helped lead his team to a National Championship during his junior year, which prepared him for a stellar senior season.

Although Villanova didn’t make a deep tournament run, they had a very successful season. Hart will likely be somewhere between the 20th-30th draft pick range. Some have speculated that the Portland Trailblazers will pick him up.

Jerry West Award

Malik Monk is a scoring machine. It’s no wonder he earned the top shooting guard award on Friday. The Kentucky guard was nothing short of incredible this year.

College Basketball's Biggest Awards

Malik Monk throws down a dunk for Kentucky (Photo Courtesy of thebiglead.com)

Jerry West himself was one of the great guards in his day. He played for West Virginia and led his team to a National Championship. His nicknames include “Mr. Clutch” and “Mr. Outside” for his clutch shooting capabilities and overall strength on the perimeter. Monk definitely fits the bill.

His scoring capabilities allowed him to have four games with 30 or more points, including 47 against North Carolina. He averaged 19.8 points, 2.5 rebounds and 2.3 assists per game. Coach Calipari had great things to say about the freshman.

“With Malik you’re talking about a superior athlete with skills and an ability to score that make him truly unique,” Calipari said. “What I love about Malik is that, as the season went on, he learned how to help our team win by doing more than just score. He became an efficient player who I believe will make an immediate impact at the next level.”

Monk earned SEC Freshman of the Year honors as well and declared for the draft just last week. He is predicted to be a top five overall draft pick this year.

Karl Malone Award

The Karl Malone award went to none other than Johnathan Motley of Baylor University as the nation’s top power forward.

College Basketball's Biggest Awards

Johnathan Motley of Baylor University (Photo Courtesy of USA Today Sports)

Motley’s statistics this season were quite impressive. He averaged 17.3 points, 9.9 rebounds and 2.3 assists per game. In their most recent Sweet 16 loss, he added 18 points and nine rebounds.

The junior has two things going for him. He is a great offensive rebounder with his length and athleticism. He also protects the basket very well, especially in Baylor’s 2-3 defense. Motley also has outstanding foot speed for his 6-foot-9, 230 pound frame.

Yesterday he declared for the NBA draft, but also will not be hiring an agent. He is expected to go in the top 40.

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Award

The fifth-year senior Przemek Karnowski was named the top center of the year. The Polish big man is a prowess in the post. He stands 7-foot-1 and 300 pounds, which is hard to guard. He also has great court vision and has an advantage on anyone in the college game because of his size.

College Basketball's Biggest Awards

Przemek Karnowski of Gonzaga (Photo Courtesy of newsday.com)

His statistics this year were respectable. He averaged 12.2 points, 5.8 rebounds and 1.9 assists per game. The Bulldogs went to him down the stretch in close games for his ability to make strong back-to-the-basket moves.

When asked about the award, Karnowski said, “It means a lot… all the hard work I put in throughout my whole life in basketball is paying off and I’m really happy about it.”

As far as the draft goes, many scouts aren’t truly worried about his basketball abilities. They are worried about his back. Karnowski missed a good chunk of his junior season due to bulging discs in his back, which could be a problem in the future.

All of these players are well-deserving of their awards after some impressive seasons. All are looking ahead to the draft and it will be fun to see where they end up.

 

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